Solar and Wind power are growing very fast now and lithium battery-based energy storage facilities will provide the next step for the integration of this power sources into the smart grid. Elon Musk with Tesla Gigafactory is in the picture again here as well.
Lithium Batteries Gigafactory: Why Morgan Stanley Is Betting That Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company
Morgan Stanley is very vocal about the coming disruption to trillion dollar industries. Cheaper lithium batteries will enable not only mass market for electric cars, but the distributed power generation. Wind and solar power can be used with the existing grid. Every household potentially becomes the power plant and you can use this power for your own electric car.
World's largest lithium-ion battery to be built in Southern California, dwarfs previous installations
Battery power AES Southland has announced a contract with Southern California Edison to deliver a 400MW lithium ion battery-based energy storage facility that will be capable of providing 100MW of power for a total of four hours. For comparison, when the State Grid Corporation of China teamed up with electric car manufacturer BYD to build the largest battery in the world, the stated capacity was 36MWh — less than 1/10 the size of the SCE facility.
That gap is so large it seems ridiculous, yet all available points to this new facility as one of the largest, if not thelargest lithium-ion battery storage facilities in the entire world.
For all that, the new plant is just a fraction of the total generative capability that SCE selected from the proposed solutions. AES will also provide a 1284MW worth of cycle-gas fired generation capability, with other solutions contributing roughly 600MW. Total capacity to be built out is 1,892MW across 63 contracts. Of that amount, only 44MW is classified as renewable according to SCE’s own website.
The real significance of the AES announcement is that this battery is apparently being bought to replace older gas peaker plants. Typically, older gas plants are repurposed to provide peak generation (hence the “peaker” nickname). Because these plants are only operated occasionally, they have extremely high costs and take time to spin up. Oftentimes these are older, less efficient plants as well — all of which contributes to the high cost of peak power. SCE isn’t abandoning peak power generative capacity, but only 98MW of the 1,891MW total will be peaker plants.
The idea behind using a 100MW battery as a buffer is that it can offset the need for expensive peak power generation. 400MW isn’t really large enough to feed an area the size of SCE’s distribution grid, but it is sufficient to buffer conventional supplies at peak load and reduce operating costs.
Battery sizes set to boom
This installation isn’t set to come online until 2021, but all indications are that this will be one of the largest lithium-ion installations in North America. Given that 30-40MW projects were hailed as the largest in the world as recently as two years ago, while the largest battery installation in the world was capable of providing 40MW for just seven minutes back in the early 2000s, it’s clear that we’re about to see an explosion in total battery capacity. Hybrid grids are also becoming common.
What’s less clear is whether or not lithium-ion batteries are the right tool to drag ourselves away from dependence on coal, gas, and oil. While they’re currently a “best we’ve got” solution, the fact is, the energy density and specific energy of lithium-ion batteries is terrible in comparison to almost everything.
There’s definitely a market for lithium-ion as a partial replacement for peaker plants, but the of using it in conjunction with wind and solar power are dubious at large scale. SCE’s own bid makes this point — while the order pulls together a variety of energy sources to achieve its goals, the overwhelming majority of the power is created using natural gas. Solar power and battery reserves are a fraction of the total energy. ExtremeTech."